Climate change

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5945 (Published 01 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5945
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, The BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}bmj.com

WHO should now declare a public health emergency

When The BMJ started publishing articles on climate change, some readers told us to stick to our knitting (www.bmj.com/content/332/7554/0.7/rapid-responses). “What did this have to do with medicine?” they asked. And wasn’t climate change a myth, a result of natural climatic variation, nothing to do with human activity? There were surely more immediate challenges that The BMJ and its readers should be focusing on.

We listened politely but carried on, convinced of the threat to human health and survival. With others we set up the Climate and Health Council (climateandhealth.org). We published editorials and articles (thebmj.com/content/climate-change), co-hosted conferences and seminars, lobbied funders, talked to policy makers and politicians, and worked with the BMA, the royal colleges, and their equivalents in other countries, all the time worrying that this was not enough. Our hope was to encourage doctors and other health professionals to take a lead in tackling climate change.

Now we have gone a step further, with the publication of an article that contains no medicine or healthcare at all. “The science of anthropogenic climate change: what every doctor should know” is pure climate science.1 Why? Because if we doctors are to become effective advocates against climate change, a better understanding of the science will help us.

As most readers will know, the news is not good. With a high degree of certainty the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded in its fifth …

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